Can Baseball Strategy Help Your Startup Hire Better?

Written By: Dharmesh Shah February 6, 2007
For those of you that are regular readers, you may know that in addition to this blog, I also co-author with Brian Halligan.

Brian has a very thought-provoking article on SBH titled “Secrets Of Success:  What Baseball Can Teach You About Your Business”.  It’s well worth the read.  If you only have time to read this article or Brian’s, read Brian’s.  Every four to six weeks, Brian really hits one “out of the park” (pun intended), and this is one of those.

For the record, I’m not an avid baseball fan.  I live within walking distance of Boston’s Fenway and have only been to a single game.  Despite this lack of any knowledge about baseball, I found this article extremely interesting because it looks at some of the numbers and statistics behind the game – and how that influences strategy and outcome.

I’m always intrigued by looking for patterns in business.  I think the companies that often succeed are the ones that are able to detect interesting and high-impact patterns that others do not see.  Brian cites the example of hedge-fund managers, which I think is a great example for this “pattern matching” model.  But, I think this applies to all sorts of businesses – including startups.

As a startup founder, one of your biggest challenges is finding the “right” people.  Unfortunately, just like baseball, the “right” person is not necessarily the one with the highest IQ, the most relevant experience, the one with the most degrees or the one that happens to live in the same town as you.  In fact, if you “solve” for one or more of these particular variables, you’re likely going to end up over-paying because you are sub-optimizing at some level.  If you hire the “smartest person you can find”, you are overpaying because your particular need may not necessarily need the “smartest person you can find”.  In essence, you are paying a premium for a trait that is not likely to give you a return.

In any case, I just wanted to share Brian’s article and possibly spark some discussion around how a more analytical approach might be applied to startup hiring.  Any thoughts?


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